Warming Up and Cooling Down!
You should always warm up for training. But not everyone knows what to do. The purpose of a warm up is to get your body and mind ready for the task ahead. You need to bring your heart rate up, engage your muscles, and move through a range of motion in your joints. A dynamic warm up routine is better than a series of static movements. You will develop your own routine as you get to know your body. Here are some of the more well known warm ups.
Standing High Knee Lifts: march in place bringing each knee up so your thighs are parallel to the ground. Try 12 each leg. Standing Glute Kicks: bring each heel up and back to kick your bottom (or as close as you can get). 12 each leg. Leg Swings: stand sideways onto solid surface and hold on for balance. Swing one leg back and forth slowly to increase range of movement. 10-12 each leg. Walking Lunges: slowly walk forwards in a straight line, making each step a deep lunge. 20 steps forward (10 each leg) and 20 back to your starting position. Ankle Rolls: stand on one foot and hold the other leg out in front, slightly off the ground. Rotate your foot at the ankle, one way and then the other. Repeat on the other leg.
Once you’ve performed enough of these dynamic warm up exercises you could do an easy warm-up run. For training, this could be the first portion of your training run (unless you need to perform your training run at a specific pace). For race-day, your warm up run should be separate. Make sure the final 60 seconds of your warm up run is done at race pace or faster to prime your body for aerobic work.
Never finish a training run or race and simply stop. Take a few minutes to cool down properly – your body will thank you. Your cool down gives you the chance to lightly stretch your muscles whilst they are still warm and full of blood. This will help your body maintain a nice range of movement, and flush out waste which builds up during exercise. Always relax into your cool down stretches, never force any painful movements.
Walk for 2-5 minutes (you can use this time to drink water or a post-run recovery drink). Forward Bend: Stand with your legs wider than hip width, toes forward. Keep your legs straight and bend at the hips, hanging your body forward and down. Calf Stretch: stand facing a wall, with one leg a pace behind the other, both toes painting forward. Place the back foot flat on the ground and lean against the wall. Swap legs. Hamstring Stretch: stand with legs straight and together, bend at the hips and send your body forward and down as if trying to touch your toes (no problem if you can’t!) Quad Stretch: hold onto a firm surface for support. Bend one leg at the knee and hold your foot behind you, keeping your knees together. Press your hips slightly forward to increase the stretch in your thigh muscles. Repeat on the other side. Glute Stretch: sit on the ground with both legs in front of you. Bend one leg and put the foot over the other side of the straight knee. Twist your body towards the inside of the bent knee to feel a stretch in your hips and glutes. Repeat on the other side.
If you feel stiff when you get home, spend 10-15 minutes foam rolling and stretching the big muscles of your thighs, hamstrings, hips, back, and glutes. It's a good habit to get into stretching any time during the day.